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“I’ve Been To The Mountaintop.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This excerpt from the final speech of Dr. King is short but nonetheless impactful.  This video would be appropriate for high schoolers.  I could see English classes using this as a springboard for an essay.  History classes could also use it to break down what is being said and why it mattered.  The importance of this speech is often overlooked by his more famous “I Have a Dream” speech, (which you can find here).  However, this speech is almost prophetic given it is punctuated by his assassination.  

Some discussion points could include: What is he referring to when he says “somewhere I read…?” What is he talking about when he mentions dogs and water hoses? What do you think he meant by “difficult days ahead?” What is he referring to when he says he’s seen the mountain top? How does it make you feel when he’s talking about having a long life, knowing that he would die the next day? What is the “Promised Land?” How has Dr. King’s religious background impacted this speech? Below is the transcript of the excerpt of this speech.  

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. 

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968

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What do you think?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Leader and a Hero

Why was Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated?